I could tell immediately that I wasn’t going to like the discourse of the call. It was 11:30 at night, and the only calls that come in at that hour involve bodily demise, catastrophe of the vehicular nature, or a person on the other end with a death wish for getting me out of bed. Since we have no suicidal friends, I braced myself and started rummaging through my mind’s closet for black dresses.
“In jail? Why?” Callie raised her eyebrows in my direction, and I switched my mental search from ebony attire to orange jumpsuits. “About 15 minutes, I guess. I just need to pull on some shoes.” She used her free hand to work the lever on the Lazy Boy, and her feet descended from comfort back into action stance. “Ok. I’ll be there soon.”
“Where are we going?”
“Exit 13. I need to pick up Heather from the Luke Bryan concert.”
“So we’re not busting her out of jail?”
“Nah. Her ride got arrested for fighting, and she’s stranded. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
I didn’t want to, but there was no way I was leaving Heather, my nephew’s girlfriend, wandering out in a field with a group of people who were obviously having way too much fun. “You’re not driving up there by yourself. Do we have time to change?”
“She sounded a little panicked.”
“Let’s go.” I walked out the door wearing loaner pajamas from Callie. There’s just no way to emphasize how fetching I looked in those parachute teddy bear pants and oversized t-shirt. The bulky sneakers I’d been wearing ever since the doggie poo incident of 1300 hours really polished off the ensemble beautifully. But hey, no one would see me, right?
We made good time up the Interstate, although headlights illuminating the southbound side foreshadowed the chaos to come. We made it off the exit easily because we were the only morons trying to wade into concert traffic that involved enough police car strobe lights to send half the state into an epileptic fit. The concert had been held in a cornfield, and the line of automobiles stretching into the Land of Orville Redenbacher gave me flashbacks of that movie Field of Dreams. Except that instead of being interested in building something for them to come, I was more interested in making everyone go away. If you build the concert stage, they will come . . . If you tear gas them, they will go away.
We crawled along until we reached one of three exits for the crowd. Cops had traffic on our side of the road stopped, and people swarmed around the car like gnats around a nose. “Go ahead and call her, Aunt Traci. I have no idea how we’ll find her otherwise.”
I dialed her number but got voicemail. Moments later, a phone call from Live Oak, Florida, lit up the screen, and I put it on speaker.
“Are you here?”
“Yeah. We’re at the middle entrance.”
“Is that the one with the cops?”
There were cops everywhere, but they did seem concentrated in our area. “Yeah.”
“Great! We’ll be there in a minute.” She hung up, and I looked at Callie.
Callie shook her head. “I didn’t know there was a ‘we.'”
“What are we going to do with more than one?” We might have been discussing marriages or slices of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. One is delightful and even manageable, but a surplus is just overwhelming.
“I don’t know, but I hope they show up before the cop waves us through.”
I could echo a hearty amen to that. We were fine on this side of the road, but if we had to turn around and try to make our way back . . . Let’s just say it would have been quicker to take a shortcut through Canada.
As I scanned the crowd for Heather, I noticed the standard issue uniform seemed to be Daisy Duke shorts for girls and open flannel shirts for boys . . . if they were still wearing shirts, that is. People yelled and staggered in all directions, and trucks emerged from the cornfield so laden with bodies that the tailgates almost dragged the ground. The dashboard clock read midnight, and the cop was waving us through without our cargo.
“What should I do, Aunt Traci?”
“We’re not turning around. There,” I said, pointing to the shoulder, “pull over there, and we’ll wait for her.”
People continued to pour around us like water in a stream. Inebriated faces peeped in my window from time to time, but one glance at my bear britches sent them scurrying away. That’s right; go away children of the corn. Go find someone else to punch and someplace else to vomit. We redialed Heather’s number, but the kind soul on the other end told us her phone was dead, but she should be up front by now. Thankfully, Callie spotted her, and Heather and a friend spilled into the backseat.
“Oh, thank God you came to get us! It’s crazy out there.”
“Yeah,” said her friend. “We didn’t know what we were going to do once that guy hit Michael and he hit him back and then the cops came over and I ran into the bushes to pee . . . ” Nice to meet you too, total stranger. And thanks for all that information. She continued to prattle loudly, so we finally interrupted to ask their destination since the meter was running.
“Our car is at the Winn Dixie in Lake Park. I thought we were going to have to walk.”
That made it official. Lake Park was 8 miles up the interstate, and this girl was thinking about walking back. She was either drunk or as crazy as a sprayed roach. My bet was on Bud Lite.
I told Callie how to get where we needed to go without turning around, and we dropped the girls off and pulled up to Callie’s house around 1am. I took one last look at my phone, whose belligerent attitude seemed bent on disappointing me, and then I crawled into bed in the guest room.
© 2012 – Traci Carver